Chapter 46 Knowing The Lord

That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death (Philippians 3:10).

There is a profound relationship between the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and the manifestation of His risen life in the believer. The new life which we have in Him is not a whitewash of our natural life, but a different and distinct life altogether—the gift of a divine, spiritual, heavenly life, which is called eternal life. This life comes to us through living faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus and what He accomplished on our behalf and for our benefit upon Calvary’s cross.

The Deeper Meaning of the Cross

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). But how does the second part come? The first part—the gift of life—is the fruit of believing that Christ died for our sins. The second part—the abundance of that life—surely means that what the Lord Jesus did for us is made good in us. The first part comes with an objective view of the cross. “There is life for a look at the crucified One,” we sing. That is Scripturally true (Numbers 21:9). The second seems to be a subjective experience by which the power of the cross is made to work within us to remove all that hinders that new life in Christ coming into full manifestation. Everything which belongs to our natural life obstructs the course, the growth, and the development of that new life which has been communicated to us through believing. The cross, as a principle, is the cutting power which severs that which is of the flesh.

The Destructive Power of the Cross

“That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The devil is deeply associated with all the ruin and disorder in the natural creation. We look around and we see thorns and briars springing from the ground. Earthquakes, tornadoes, drought, flood, pestilence and other destructive agencies are operative in nature. We look within, and we find our hearts are full of the same sad curse. It is the devil alone who is responsible for the ruin and we are part of that disordered creation. We come into this world with his chains around our necks and his throne erected within our hearts.

Though the devil is great, there is One gloriously greater. And the eternal Son of God came into this world and descended into the mystery of death in order to destroy “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” “To destroy” does not mean to annihilate but to bring to nought—to render powerless—to make incapable of success. The Lord so thoroughly put Satan to flight that he never dared come near our Lord again—whether during the forty days He was on earth after His resurrection or when He ascended up into heaven through territory occupied by Satan.

What the Lord did in relation to the devil, He did for us so that we, who “through fear of death were all [our] lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15), could be delivered from such fear. We are meant to experience and enjoy the Lord’s victory over all that is of the devil. In Christ, that victory is actual and accomplished; in us, it is potential but may become actual upon the exercise of faith. The Lord has put into our hands the instrument for overcoming the devil.

The Conforming Power of the Cross

“Being made conformable to His death.” I have a friend who often put this verse at the close of his letters, then added “the other way round.” The other way round is impossible. The Holy Spirit made no mistake in the order of this verse. We know the initial power of the Cross when we savingly believe what our Lord accomplished on our behalf on it. We thereby pass from death to life. It is in the power of His resurrection life alone that we may go on to know the fellowship of His sufferings, and through such fellowship be conformed to His death. This means that the power of the cross must work in us to set aside all the disorder of the natural man so that the eternal life, already deposited within us, may be released for its own increase.

So much of our lives is an expression of the natural man. But nothing of the natural man can accomplish spiritual ends or bring forth spiritual fruit—no matter how well-intentioned such efforts may be. The natural man cannot serve God nor work for the glory of God. The only way we can serve God is through the new life given us in Christ and which proceeds from the Holy Spirit who comes to indwell us. We can do all things in and through the Spirit and must do them so if we are to accomplish God’s ends. Thus the Holy Spirit is all the time bringing us back to the cross where all that is of the natural man has been nailed to the cross in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the constant exercise of our life-union with Him. It is only this conformity to His death which makes way for a full manifestation of the gift of eternal life.

Thee will I love, my strength, my tower,
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love with all my power,
In all Thy works, and Thee alone;
Thee will I love, till the pure fire
Fill my whole soul with chaste desire.

I thank thee, uncreated Son,
That Thy bright beams on me have shined;
I thank Thee, who hast overthrown
My foes, and healed my wounded mind;
I thank Thee, Whose enlivening voice
Bids my free heart in Thee rejoice.

Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God;
Thee will I love, beneath Thy frown
Or smile, Thy sceptre or Thy rod;
What though my flesh and heart decay;
Thee shall I love in endless day!

—Johann Scheffler
Tr. By John Wesley